Jessica Berman

Jessica Berman is Professor of English, Affiliate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, and Affiliate Professor of Language, Literacy and Culture. She served as Chair of the English Department from 2006-2012. She holds a bachelor's degree in history from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Chicago. Her teaching and research interests include modernism from a transnational perspective, literature and culture, and feminist and literary theory. She also has a special interest in questions of politics in connection to twentieth-century world literature. Her recent book, Modernist Commitments: Ethics, Politics and Transnational Modernism(Columbia University Press, 2011), examines the connection between ethics and politics in early twentieth-century writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Mulk Raj Anand, Cornelia Sorabji, Max Aub and Meridel Le Sueur, and argues for an expansive, transnational approach to the definition of literary modernism. Her previous book, Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Community (Cambridge University Press, 2001, paper 2006), explored the connection between community and cosmopolitanism in the writings of Henry James, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, and Gertrude Stein. She has published essays in such journals as Modernism/Modernity and Modern Fiction Studies, as well as in such influential volumes as Geomodernisms (Doyle and Winkiel eds) and Disciplining Modernism (Caughie ed.). She is the editor of A Companion to Virginia Woolf (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming in 2015) and is currently at work on a book-length project entitled, "Media Migrations: Modernism, Exile and Twentieth-Century Media.” The book will investigate the role of exiles and migrants in the development of new media throughout the twentieth century, with focus on radio, film, television, and digital media.


Berman co-edits, with Paul Saint-Amour, the Modernist Latitudes book series at Columbia University Press. She serves on the Board of the American Comparative Literature Association and on the Modernist Studies Association program committee. She was the organizer of the Tenth Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf, "Virginia Woolf Out of Bounds," which took place at UMBC in 2000 and a co-editor (with Jane Goldman) of the Selected Papers from that conference (Pace University Press, 2001). She has been the recipient of a Whiting Foundation fellowship, a Newberry Library short-term fellowship, and the Richard Halliday Prize of the Henry James Society, among other awards and fellowships. She has been a teaching fellow in the UMBC Humanities Scholars Program, a Bearman Foundation fellow for her first-year seminar, and was a Provost's Research Fellow in Spring 2007. In Spring 2013 Berman will be a Mellon-funded external fellow at the University of North Carolina’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities and a visiting professor in UNC’s Department of English and Comparative Literature. When she returns to UMBC in January 2014, she will become Director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities.